14 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Conversation and Symbols
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Here are my rules of writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
All language is symbols. Therefore it shouldn't surprise you that your writing should include higher level symbols. What are higher level symbols? I mentioned before the cross as a symbol. The cross is a higher level symbol--a symbol that doesn't depend on language. Symbols can be ready made or author made symbols. Some symbols are a mix.
You could argue that since language is all symbols that writing is just these symbols and that's it. There is much more to this subject however. Yesterday, I broached the subject of levels in writing and postulated that plot and theme are two separate and unequal levels of writing. The use of symbols is what makes this differentiation. The use of complex symbols in language and culture makes the differentiation and the levels of writing possible. The most evident example of this is in the writing of conversation.
The power of conversation (which should be over 60 percent of any novel) is in what is said and what is not said. This refers back to one of my rules of writing: don't show everything. Strong conversation, especially in writing, can be and should be levels on levels of masks. I wrote recently about secrets as a tension and release developer in writing, see www.novelscene.wordpress.com. The most powerful secrets are those held by the protagonist that are not shared with the reader until late in the novel. Secrets held by other characters also lend power and depth to any writing.
A conversation starts on a concrete and literal level. Depending on the skill of the writer, the levels build from there to the theme. This is a difficult subject to give simple examples for. I'll try to bring some into play tomorrow.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.